The Upshot Of The Down Shot

on May 03, 2015

That was a down shot. The sort of thing that you do when you don't know that you can't do it.

Wooden 4 x 5 field camera bolted to a rafter in the studio ceiling. Just enough space between the the back of the camera and the ceiling to insert the double dark holder.
A builder's ladder to get up to the camera for cocking the lens and inserting the double dark and then pulling the dark slide.

Focus? Lie on the floor with the camera just above my nose and focus on the rafter - I mean, focus works in both ways - once it is set for the rafter it'll be set for the floor.

Red paper backdrop covered in thin red velvet. You have no idea how much white lint a red velvet can pick up until you are sitting there with a roll of sticky tape picking up the bits.

Lights, camera, action. Model in place, drapes in place, football in place - ladder in place, double dark in place, cock the shutter, pull the slide, stretch the air release tube way out to he side and squeeze the bulb. The ladder back in place, put in the dark slide, flip over the holder, cock the shutter and repeat the whole thing.

8 more times. I never want to see that piece of red velvet ever again...

All of which to introduce the idea of the down shot - the direct vertical view that you might get from an airplane or rafter. If you are an award-winning aerial photographer like Tony Hewitt this sort of thing is old hat, but if you are newer to the idea it can be a wonderful revelation. Google Earth on a smaller scale, if you will.

It can certainly give an entirely new perspective to your photography - and in the next blog post I'll show what happens with a high-angle oblique shot.

Note: No models or football were harmed in the shoot, but it was a close-run thing a couple of times. Careful with ladders - gravity works all the time.

Uncle Dick